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Book Review: Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England

I'll admit that the Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer is a few years old, but it's a handy book to have on your shelf, especially if you're writing historical fiction set between the Twelfth and Fourteenth Centuries. It's also handy if you write fantasy novels, and prefer your novels to be medieval in nature.

Once again, the book cover links you to Amazon's Kindle page, and when you click through, I do receive a little bit of money.

The book gives a good overview to what life was like during the Medieval Age of England. It's very good for England, but if you're looking outside England, whether Ireland or Scotland, it doesn't help quite as much. There would be regionally differences, but this gives you a good solid grounding in life.

He covers the world through a collection of themes much like a modern travel guide would do today: where to eat, what to wear, religious observances. He goes into some of the laws, the landscape and village and city life.

Throughout the book you'll find little nuggets of interesting facts. One example is a murder mystery in the making. According to tradition, the concept of a 'rule of thumb' came from the legal right of a man to beat his wife, but he could only use a switch as thick as his thumb. Men could be prosecuted for undue force; however, since it was assumed that a woman couldn't attack and beat her husband, there were no laws prosecuting women who beat their husbands.

Mortimer also provides several tables including wages at the time, what not to wear depending on social standing, and pilgrimage sites. At the end of the book, he provides the reader with a bibliography for still more books to read.

All in all, I recommend reading the book for an understanding of the time period as well as general research. Mortimer also has another book about Elizabethan England, which will be reviewed sometime this winter.


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